Albany, NY - Bill To Impede KJ Annexation Passes In Assembly; Identical Senate Bill Still Awaiting Action
Albany, NY - The call for greater oversight in Kiryas Joel’s plan to annex significant acreage from the Town of Monroe continues to gain momentum as the New York State Assembly passed a bill last night that could potentially give county planning departments the ability to stop the proposed annexation.
Assemblyman James Skoufis, who represents the state’s 99th Assembly district which includes parts of Orange and Rockland counties, introduced legislation that would require Orange County planning agencies to review any potential annexations in which the county or annexing municipality would be providing water or sewer services to the area in question. Annexations that are disapproved could still proceed if they receive a supermajority of four out of five votes from each affected municipal board.
Skoufis described the bill’s passage on his Facebook page as “a big win for good government and good public policy.”
A second bill introduced by Skoufis that would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to review the track record of any municipality and its compliance with state and federal environmental laws when choosing a lead agency for any environmental review also passed the Assembly.
The need for a massive sewer expansion is a key portion of the proposed annexation plan and a lawsuit was filed in March against the DEC for choosing the Kiryas Joel Village Board as the lead agency by the DEC earlier this year, as previously reported on VIN News.
Two identical bills introduced in the Senate by Senator William Larkin have yet to be voted on. Larkin, a long time supporter of Kiryas Joel, expressed no qualms about throwing his support behind legislation that could potentially thwart the annexation effort.
“It is Senator Larkin’s job to represent the entire 39th Senate district,” Larkin’s press secretary Brian Maher told VIN News. “He works hard every day and has done so over the past two decades and will continue to do that.”
The two bills would apply to both the 507 acre annexation effort proposed by Kiryas Joel in December 2013 as well as a modified 164 acre annexation plan that was filed last August.
A statement released last week by Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus praised members of the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities, which supported the anti annexation effort.
“It is common sense given that the county is permitted to weigh in on anything as simple as, in some instances, the placement of residential swimming pools, that we should have significant oversight of something as large as a 500 acre annexation,” said Neuhaus.
Neuhaus has hired a Rochester firm to review plans for both the proposed annexation and a water pipeline that would be required to serve the thousands of residents that would potentially live in the annexed area.
“Orange County deserves a seat at the table when it comes to Kiryas Joel’s proposed expansion,” said Neuhaus. “This is an important issue to the residents of Orange County.”
A joint public hearing will be held Wednesday night by the Kiryas Joel Village Board and the Monroe Town Board in Kiryas Joel to discuss further details of the planned annexation.
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